Over the coming weeks we’ll be posting some profiles and links about the keynote speakers for the upcoming symposium “Transformation without Apocalypse.”
Tim DeChristopher is an environmental activist and founder of Peaceful Uprising, an organization dedicated to creating livable futures and empowering nonviolent action. Today, Tim is best known for an act of civil disobedience in which he disrupted a government oil and gas lease auction in order to protect fragile land in southern Utah from long term damage, an act of conscience for which he was sentenced to two years in federal prison. Tim was released from prison in April 2013 and currently attends Harvard Divinity School.
Tim’s keynote talk, “A Movement with Soul,” will ask the questions: How can we maintain our humanity through a period of rapid and intense change? Can the demands of an endless revolution create a movement that nourishes deeper selves and a better society?
Terry Tempest Williams did a fascinating interview with DeChristopher for Orion magazine. The two friends go into many topics—family influences, sports, religion, despair, wilderness, and freedom. Here are two brief excerpts:
TERRY: Yesterday, weren’t you saying that rich people don’t make great activists?
TIM: Yeah. In front of a very wealthy audience.
TERRY: But people understood what you were saying. I mean, we’re all privileged, right? Especially as predominantly white Americans sitting in a film festival in Telluride, Colorado.
TIM: Yeah. I also think that’s why we’re bad activists. That’s why the climate movement is weaker in this country than in the rest of the world. Because we have more stuff. We have much higher levels of consumption, and that’s how people have been oppressed in this country, through comfort. We’ve been oppressed by consumerism. By believing that we have so much to lose.
* * *
TIM: … If you look at the worst-case consequences of climate change, those pretty much mean the collapse of our industrial civilization. But that doesn’t mean the end of everything. It means that we’re going to be living through the most rapid and intense period of change that humanity has ever faced. And that’s certainly not hopeless. It means we’re going to have to build another world in the ashes of this one. And it could very easily be a better world. I have a lot of hope in my generation’s ability to build a better world in the ashes of this one. And I have very little doubt that we’ll have to. The nice thing about that is that this culture hasn’t led to happiness anyway, it hasn’t satisfied our human needs. So there’s a lot of room for improvement.
TERRY: How has this experience—these past two years—changed you?
TIM: [Sighing.] It’s made me worry less.
TIM: It’s somewhat comforting knowing that things are going to fall apart, because it does give us that opportunity to drastically change things.
The complete interview is here: http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/6598
The film Bidder 70 is a moving documentary of DeChristopher’s 2008 disruption of an auction of Utah public lands and his subsequent trial and incarceration. Writing in Slant Magazine Kalvin Henely said, “Bidder 70 convinces us that these people really do care about the fate of humankind and that we’re entrapped in a legal system that is, environmentally speaking, still set on driving us off a cliff.”
Spring Creek and the Student Sustainability Initiative invite everyone to a free screening:
Wednesday, February 12, 7 pm,
Linus Pauling Science Center, room 125, OSU